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THE LONG GOODBYE

USA, 1973 (MIFF 1999, Mavericks)

Director: Robert Altman

Antiheroic, unshaven slob Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) lives in a contemporary Los Angeles that seems to have completely passed him by. Marlowe is perpetually mum­bling under his breath the mantra, "It's OK with me", not unlike Popeye, a cartoon character that director Altman would later bring to the screen with unfortunate results. A cigarette constantly dangles out the side of his smartass mouth. Marlowe's ostensible mission is to clear his friend Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) of a murder charge.

Altman's modernist take on loyalty and morality, scripted by Leigh Brackett who worked on The Big Sleep (1946). portrays a seemingly passive and uncompre­hending figure who stands alone against a corrupt world, biding his time until an inevitable final reel payoff.

Technically adventurous—with lovely widescreen compositions, a constantly moving camera, extended lakes and a haunting theme song which is heard in end­less variations throughout the film—The Long Goodbye exudes a noirish atmosphere. Altman reinforces this noir mood through extensive use of Los Angeles locations, the presence of an enigmatic femme fatale (Nina Van Pallandt), a self-destructive alcoholic author (Sterling Hayden), a snivelling weed of a sanatorium proprietor, played by the excellent Henry Gibson, and a violent Jewish crime boss (director Mark Rydell). Arnold Schwarzenegger, billed as Arnold Strong, appears briefly as one of Marly Augustine's hired goons.

See also...

AMERICAN RULING CLASS

USA, 2005
Does America have a ruling class? How does one join it, and should one even want to? Written by Lewis Lapham, American Ruling Class explores the US's most taboo topics: class, power and privilege in … More »

z channel: a magnificent obsession

USA, 2004
Directed by Xan Cassavetes, daughter of legendary actor-director John Cassavetes, [Z Channel] is an engrossing account of a TV phenomenon topped off by a bizarre murder-suicide. Jerry Harvey was a vi… More »

PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION

USA, 2005
“Not since Woody Allen's Radio Days has anyone created such a cinematic Valentine to the wonderfully imaginative medium of radio as A Prairie Home Companion.” - Hollywood Reporter Protean filmmak… More »

WHAT A WONDERFUL PLACE

Israel, 2005
Reminiscent of Robert Altman's elaborate ensemble cast pieces, What a Wonderful Place deftly weaves multiple story threads into an intricate tapestry, depicting the lives of marginalised immigrants l… More »

HEALTH

USA, 1980
Health is Robert Altman in one of his broad fresco satires of American conventions. And here his subject is a convention — a health food convention in Florida. The script was written by Frank B… More »

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